Ethics & Business – Do they go hand in hand?

by Kathy Dawson –

When I opened my business I never realized how many ethical questions would come up. Early on, I would get potential clients that wanted to pay me under the table or would want to hire candidates for the wrong reasons. Business ethics are a huge issue in our society today. With social media, business has never been more transparent. Ethics comprise your moral judgments about right and wrong.

The burning question for me is how do we encourage each other to operate in an ethical manner. Here are some things to consider while developing the kind of ethical culture which helps us all:

1. Be the model. If your contacts see you cutting corners and consistently working in gray areas, then they are probably going to do the same thing regardless of what your code of ethics says. You are the company, and you set the standards.

2. Little things count. Understand that ethics issues always start small. Each small decision you make builds the kind of business person you are and the kind of company you run.

3. Choose ethical partners. Working with companies that care about the equality and dignity of all people, and respect human rights makes for great partnerships. You treat others with respect and get the same in return.

4. Stand above the rest. Being known for your ethics is a way of differentiating yourself from the competition in attracting employees and customers. And satisfied customers will spread the word about you and your organization by powerful word-of-mouth advertising.

5. Look at your employees’ values. Make sure the people you hire share your values. You don’t want people who will throw ethics to the wayside in order to make a buck. These are the people who will end up stealing from you or cheating your customers.

Ethical business practices do not have to disrupt the pursuit of profits and professional growth. The assumption that businesses have to do anything to make money and get ahead is wrong. Many companies succeed while acting in a way that is both ethical and in the best interests of the business.

Choices show up everywhere. Good luck! May your future ethical decisions take you far!